Basic Definitions

Hello, hello! If you’re like a lot of people, you may not know what “aspec” means, or why we talk about sexual and romantic attraction as different. It’s actually pretty simple once you get an explanation, so here’s the summary of some basic aspec info.
(A disclaimer, this is meant as a basic orientation and doesn’t cover everything that might be relevant, or a list of all terms. If you want a detailed definition of all microlabels and such, is a great resource.)

Basic terminology:

Asexual = doesn’t, or rarely, experience(s) sexual attraction to others. The asexual spectrum contains many more-specific identities and “types” of aces, such as demisexual and greysexual, sex-averse, sex-favorable, aegosexual, etc. It’s important to note that attraction to others is different from sex drive and from actual behavior. If someone says they’re ace, that doesn’t automatically mean they hate or don’t have sex, or that they don’t appreciate a dirty joke, etc.

Aromantic = doesn’t, or rarely, experience(s) romantic attraction to others. Aromanticism is also a spectrum, with people having different experiences with and feelings towards romantic attraction. I’m quoiromantic, for example, meaning that I feel like I operate outside the idea of romantic attraction entirely, rather than feeling neutral or any way at all towards it.

Aspec = an umbrella term / abbreviation for the asexual and aromantic spectra. The easy way of indicating that you’re talking about ace, aro, and everyone that falls into those categories in some form or fashion.

Allo[sexual/romantic] = allo- is the opposite of “a-” in asexual or aromantic; what society considers “normal.” If you are, for example, not on the aromantic spectrum, then you are “alloromantic.”

Amatonormativity and allonormativity = the aspec equivalents of heteronormativity. Amatonormativity is the assumption that a monogamous, romantic partnership is superior to other relationships, and everyone wants one. Allonormativity is the assumption that everyone likes sex and experiences sexual attraction. As you might have picked up by this point in reading, neither assumption is true.

A note on attraction and terms

A common misconception is that being aro and ace go together, but this isn’t always the case. There are different kinds of attraction – sexual, romantic, aesthetic, platonic, etc. – and they don’t always have to line up for people. This means that someone’s sexual orientation and romantic orientation may be different, so someone might be aro but not ace, or vice versa. Also, because a lot of aspec terms refer to when as much as to who, they can be combined with others. You can be both grey- and panromantic, for example – both being attracted to any gender, but only experiencing that attraction rarely.

This also means that people sometimes use a prefix by itself if they want to refer in a broader manner to a way of experiencing attraction, without focusing in on one single type of attraction. For example, I used to think I was both demiromantic and demisexual, so if the detailed breakdown isn’t relevant to the conversation at hand, I may just say “I used to identify as demi.”